Ultimate Guide to Sweaters

February 8, 2024 | icebreaker

Comfy, cozy, and stylish, sweaters are one of the most basic and handy wardrobe staples. But choosing the perfect sweater can sometimes feel a tad tricky. In this guide, we’ll give you the lowdown on the world of sweaters, from materials to cut and more. Plus, we’ll take a look at merino sweaters and what makes them a stand out in the knitwear world.

Sweater styles

From those oversized, knobbly 80s-inspired pullovers to sleek, body-hugging turtlenecks, the sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to sweater styles. Still, getting a good handle on the basics is a great place to start.

Classic pullovers

These are the quintessential sweaters. They're simple, slip-on styles that work just about anywhere. You’ll find everything from chunky, knobbly knits to smoother, sleeker styles in this category. Check out everything from cable-knit to ribbed options and uniform designs to see what works for you. In general, the chunkier, looser, or knobbier the more casual.


These open-front sweaters are perfect for layering. Cardigans come in everything from lightweight options to chunky, cozy knits and can be dressed up or down. They’re also great transition pieces and go from casual to office-ready or smart-casual with ease. Cable-knit pieces are classic, but there are lots of other options to try as well.


Warm and elegant, turtlenecks are great for colder days. They give a sleek look and work well with both casual and more formal clothing. Black and white monochrome are classic choices here, but striped and patterned options can be fun and unusual additions to your closet.

Hooded sweaters

All the comfort of a hoodie with the warmth of a traditional sweater. Whether it’s a practical men's sweater with a hood or a funky and bright women’s hooded sweater, these cozy choices are all about feel-good vibes.

Pile of sweaters on a chair

Knit materials

Cozy and warm, wool is the traditional sweater fabric. But there are lots more. From new blended materials to stretchy synthetics, here’s a look at some of the most common choices:

Traditional wool

Wool is the oldest and most traditional sweater material. While snuggly in the cold, some sweaters made from regular wool may be too warm or bulky for transitional seasons or in-between days.

Cotton and cotton blends

Lightweight and breathable, cotton and cotton-blend sweaters work well for transitional weather and layered looks. Think of those unpredictable days during spring or fall or just about any time the weather seems to have a hard time making up its mind.


The ultimate touch of sweater luxury. Warm with a unique plush softness, cashmere sweaters are perfect for those dressier occasions but do need extra care to keep on looking their best.

Synthetic blends

Sweaters made from synthetic blends often use fibers like acrylic or polyester in their construction. They're easy to care for, but may not always have that super-cozy feel you’re looking for.

Merino wool

Merino wool offers softness, breathability, and great insulation all in one. Think the best of traditional wool, cotton, and synthetics all in one. We take a closer look below.

Merino sweaters: A standout in the world of knitwear

Looking for a sweater that combines the airiness of cotton with the warmth of wool and the resilience of synthetics? Try a merino wool sweater. Whether you choose a stylish women’s merino sweater or a comfy men’s option, here's a deep dive into what makes merino sweaters a real standout in the knitwear world.

What makes merino wool special?

Merino wool is sourced from merino sheep, a special breed of sheep renowned for their fine, soft, and yet super durable wool. When woven into yarn, merino wool is exceptionally non-irritating and comfortable against the skin. But merino wool offers a host of other benefits, too. Here’s a look at just some:
Keeps you both cool and warm: Merino wool is great at regulating temperature. That’s thanks to its natural breathability as well as the fibers’ natural insulating crimp. So whether you’re facing icy conditions or a more temperate climate, merino helps keep you comfy.
Manages moisture well: Merino wool is thirsty and can absorb moisture (up to 30% of its weight) without feeling damp. That makes merino clothing great for every day but particularly suitable for activewear.
Durable and long-lasting: Despite its softness, merino wool is remarkably durable. Merino clothing retains its shape well and resists wrinkles, thanks to the natural elasticity of the fibers.
Keeps odors at bay: Merino wool is naturally odor-resistant. It can be worn multiple times before needing a wash, perfect if you’re traveling.

Man wearing green V neck merino sweater

Cool sweater trends

Cool sweaters aren't just about warmth; they're about making a statement. Look for unique patterns, bold colors, or interesting textures if you’re after a standout. Graphic sweaters or those with creative designs can add a fun element to any outfit.

How to style a sweater

Far from the humdrum, there are hundreds of ways to style a sweater. Think everything from low-key weekend looks for hanging out with friends to more snappy numbers that work for the office, evening events, and well beyond.

The trick is using the sweater’s color and texture to the best effect - whether that’s through contrasts or keeping everything in the same family. Looking for some easy outfit ideas? Here are some top pairings:

Casual weekday or weekend look

Pair a monochrome or patterned pullover with jeans and sneakers for a comfy vibe that’ll work just about any day. Add in a bright belt or accessories to take the look up a notch.

At the office

Layer a fine-knit sweater over a collared shirt or blouse. Pair with trousers or a pencil skirt for a look you’ll come back to again and again. Accessorize with a quality laptop bag or classic watch.

Evenings out on the town

Choose a slim-fit turtleneck in a dark color. Pair it with a blazer and chinos for a sophisticated, evening-ready ensemble.


Layering is a great way to get the best out of your sweatshirts. When the weather’s in-between, use open-front cardigans or chunky knit sweaters for layering over shirts or dresses. Add in a scarf, beanie, or gloves if there’s an extra chill in the air.

Caring for your sweaters

To keep your sweaters looking great, follow any care instructions on the sewn-in label carefully. Wool and cashmere sweaters often require hand washing or dry cleaning.

Merino sweaters meanwhile are usually fine to throw in the machine, as long as it’s on a gentle cycle, using a gentle detergent.

Store sweaters folded to avoid stretching and always make sure to dry your knits properly before packing them away.

Get your perfect sweater today

Whether you prefer low-key fits and styles or like the sophistication of classic cuts, the perfect sweater is just around the corner.

At icebreaker, we have a range of men’s and women’s merino wool sweaters, perfect for everyday casual and well beyond. From simple monochrome to patterned options, check out our range today. Plus, we’ve got tons of merino base layers, t-shirts, and other activewear, for everything you need.